BUNKER HILL — Kristin Baker thought she was just going to a joint meeting of Maconaquah High School’s French club and Sunshine Society. She was even dressed for it, with her French club T-shirt on under her Sunshine Society sweatshirt.

Instead, she was surprised with a remission party.

Baker, 15, a Maconaquah freshman, found out Jan. 18 that her Hodgkin’s Disease is in remission, after months of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiation therapy at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

French club sponsor Kathy Roller said Kristin is a member of both clubs, and they raised money for her family, to help with meals and transportation while Kristin was in treatment.

“Since she’s in remission, we decided to celebrate life and show she’s an inspiration,” Roller said. “It shows students that cancer can be survived.”

Jean Heflin, Sunshine Society sponsor, said in order to keep the party a surprise, only club officers and a few seniors members were in on the secret.

French club President Parker Woods started the meeting, then called Kristin down to the front.

“I thought they were going to announce me being cancer-free,” she said, adding she was surprised to receive gifts, flowers, balloons and two cakes — one from the French club, one from the Sunshine Society. Then she saw her surprise guests — her mother, Stephene Redman, and her grandmother, Sue Keller — who she said were her support system since she learned she had cancer, during her summer vacation.

Keller said Kristin showed little emotion when told her cancer was in remission, but her mother said she saved it for the privacy of their home.

“She cried a lot when she got home.”

Kristin said she was “amazed” when she received the good news.

“I was sure I’d have to go to more treatments.”

She’ll have to go back for check ups every three months for a few years, and then will spread them out for longer periods until her late teens.

Redman said the longer Kristin is cancer-free, the less likely it is the disease will recur.

Heflin said students have been supportive, and she does not know of any incidents of her being teased after she lost her hair from chemotherapy.

Maddison Hicks, who was in the marching band color guard with Kristin, said she didn’t know how to act around her at first, but Kristin didn’t want to be treated any differently.

She remembered a moment in class, when Kristin’s hair had started falling out in clumps, when “they were touching her hair and a big clump fell out.”

Kristin went home and had her head shaved, and other color guard members talked about wearing hats or wigs, so they would all match during competition, but Kristin did not feel the need to cover her bald head.

She wore a bandanna for a while, then decided she was comfortable going without it. Her hair has now started to grow back, progressing from reddish-brown fuzz to being about a half inch all over.

Roller said one of the gift cards they gave Kristin was for Old Navy.

“That way you can buy hats just because you want to.”

Danielle Rush may be reached at (765) 454-8585 or via e-mail at danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com

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